Monday, September 29, 2014

Disney's Aladdin - 9/27/14

This past Saturday was Julia's big day; a day trip to Broadway in New York City to see Aladdin with the original cast. Her birthday trip last year was to see The Lion King, and she loved it so much that it might be becoming a tradition. If The Lion King was spectacular, then Aladdin was even better.
Aladdin Playbill

We hit a lot of traffic getting into the city. In an ideal world, we would have gotten there and parked with enough time to spare to have a nice lunch before heading to the theater. In the real world, we grabbed a snack at a Starbucks. Not ideal, but not the worst thing ever.
Girls and the Marquee

To say that Julia was excited would be an understatement. To say that she was ready to burst into flames at any moment would be more accurate. Uncontrollable smiles. Excited chatter. Hopping around in place. Good stuff...
5th row balcony (I like the balcony)

We had seats in the fifth row of the balcony, overlooking the stage. These are my preferred kind of seats, whether for a show like this or a concert. I like the perspective of being up and above the action, with a good panoramic view. According to the notes in the Playbill, Disney's first Broadway musical was Beauty and the Beast in 1994, and in the same year the Disney Company signed a 99 year lease to renovate the 1903 Amsterdam Theater to its original glory. All major Disney musicals since then have had their opening run in this theater. Corporate money can do good things, and this is one of them; the New Amsterdam is a spectacular old theater. Just sitting in this restored ornate old gem is like taking a trip back in time.
View from our seats
As for our show itself, Aladdin opened this spring. James Monroe Iglehart won the Tony award for lead performance in a musical (as the Genie), and I can certainly see why. At 6 foot tall and 295 pounds, football fans could imagine Warren Sapp who can sing and dance. Amazing. I could gush for a long time over this show. The music from the film was terrific. The additional music they added to turn this into a full length stage musical was equally good. The performances were great, especially Iglehart and Adam Jacobs as Aladdin. The staging was terrific. In two and a half hours of show there was never a let up. Singing, dancing, jokes, effects. The time flew by. There were so many little jokes and references embedded in the show that you had to pay attention or you would miss things.
New Amsterdam Theater

All of the cast was great. Jonathan Freeman as Jafar. Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine. Don Darryl Rivera as Iago. All of the secondary characters were fabulous. It is a real treat to have seen the original cast; something that I hope the kids will appreciate later if they don't now. The effects were amazing. I'm still not 100% sure how they did the magic carpet...

Of the dozen or so Broadway shows I have seen over the years, I would rate this behind only Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. There was general agreement that this was better than The Lion King (which was also excellent). I thought it better than Phantom of the Opera (most overrated musical ever...), and it was better than Victor Victoria (even though we did see Julie Andrews, which in and of itself is a Broadway lifetime highlight).

Writing this two days later, Julia is still abuzz with excitement. As a parent, I guess that is the best you can ask of a birthday gift to a daughter. She's probably wondering what she will get to see next year. So am I.

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